Taken from Newspress Australia

MELBOURNE, August 28, 2017 – New research released today by Ford Australia has found that, while 95 per cent of parents feel family drives present an excellent opportunity for bonding, screen time was invading the experience. A substantial 76 per cent of parents with children aged 3 to 16 years said their child is typically on a device or watching digital media during this time.

An increasing reliance on our devices makes going screen-free a challenge – for adults and children alike. Practicing psychologist and Australian social commentator Sabina Read believes it’s a habit Australian families should try to break. “It’s worrying that these days people often seem more connected to a virtual world than to their own family, friends and what’s really around them. It’s important to find ways to escape our devices and reconnect with each other.”

The difficulty of disconnecting

According to the survey, the average age Australian parents believe is okay for mobile device ownership is 11 years old, with 20 per cent of parents saying that mobile ownership for children as young as five to nine years old is acceptable. Meanwhile, the Australian Department of Health advises parents to limit screen time for children, specifically the use of electronic media for entertainment (e.g. seated electronic games and computer use) to no more than two hours a day1.

“As hard as it may be, parents, partners and friends can reclaim personal and family time by going screen-free, such as on weekend excursions or a Sunday drive,” said Sabina. “Research tells us that car trips can provide a great social connection point, so it’s a worthwhile space and time Aussies should consider for family bonding and play.”

The car as a safe space for conversation

Survey findings show that time in the car can help spark kids’ imaginations and get them chatting, and it doesn’t take long for them to open up either. Almost half (48 per cent) of kids will open up within five minutes of being in the car, while 92 per cent will open up within half an hour.

“The best conversations often happen in cars for a few reasons, from no eye contact to fewer distractions, providing a safe space for loved ones, especially children, to open up,” added Sabina.

Interestingly, the destination may also impact the quality of conversation in the car, with 70 per cent of Aussie parents identifying a trip somewhere new as inspiring the most excitement in their kids, followed by a trip to see friends or family (49 per cent), or a trip to the beach (48 per cent).

The car space provides a social connection point for couples and friends too

For couples and friends taking a drive without kids, family still comes first, with 32 per cent of survey respondents noting ‘family’ as the number one topic of meaningful discussion in the car. This was followed by ‘plans for the future’ (18 per cent), and ‘school/work’ (14 per cent). Almost half (48 per cent) of those aged 18-34 years old felt the car was a safe space to discuss planning a family.

With all the pressures of modern living, finding a screen-free space and time for families and adults to play and bond can be tough – but it is important. Turns out, the solution may be as simple as a short Sunday drive.

Additional survey findings:

  • Australians believe the car provides a great place and time for family bonding because it provides an escape from the demands of home life (63 per cent), it offers fewer distractions (59 per cent), they can listen to music (51 per cent), it offers an opportunity to enjoy the scenery passing by (43 per cent) and it offers an opportunity to put away mobile devices (35 per cent).
  • Australian parents believe the car provides a great place for family bonding mainly because ‘it’s good to escape the day-to-day demands of home life for a while’ (63 per cent), it offers ‘fewer distractions’ (59 per cent) and they find it ‘easy to open up have conversations/ for children to open up for conversations’ (42 per cent).
  • Amongst adults in the car travelling with a partner or friends, 63 per cent are regularly on devices, checking social media, making calls and reading or sending emails. However, 79 per cent also engage in conversation, underscoring the car as a great place for discussion.


Jasmine Mobarek
Ford Australia
+61 3 8559 4875
+61 466 005 900


Survey Methodology

This study was conducted on the Galaxy Omnibus between Thursday, 3 August and Monday, 7 August 2017. The sample comprises 1,259 Australians aged 18 years and older with a vehicle, distributed throughout Australia by age, gender and region and weighted to the national population based on the latest ABS population estimates. Australians with children at home aged 3 to 16 years were over-sampled to achieve 600 distributed across Australia.

About Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company is a global company based in Dearborn, Michigan. The company designs, manufactures, markets and services a full line of Ford cars, trucks, SUVs, electrified vehicles and Lincoln luxury vehicles, provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company and is pursuing leadership positions in electrification, autonomous vehicles and mobility solutions. Ford employs approximately 203,000 people worldwide. For more information regarding Ford, its products and Ford Motor Credit Company, please visit www.corporate.ford.com.

1 Australian Government, Department of Health. Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines. http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act- guidelines#apa512

Accessed 10 August 2017.